1978 Rose Bowl
64th Rose Bowl Game
1234 Total
Washington 710100 27
Michigan 00713 20
DateJanuary 2, 1978
StadiumRose Bowl
LocationPasadena, California
MVPWarren Moon (Washington QB)
FavoriteMichigan by 14 [1][2]
RefereeOtho Kortz (Big Ten);
(split crew: Big Ten, Pac-10)
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersCurt Gowdy (pla-by-play)
John Brodie (color)
Charlie Jones (sideline)
Rose Bowl
 < 1977  1979

The 1978 Rose Bowl was a college football bowl game, played on Monday, January 2, and was the 64th Rose Bowl Game. The Washington Huskies, champions of the Pacific-8 Conference, defeated the favored Michigan Wolverines, champions of the Big Ten Conference, 27–20. Washington quarterback Warren Moon was named the Rose Bowl Player of the Game.[3]

The Huskies led 17–0 at the half and extended it to 24–0 early in the third quarter, then held off a Wolverine comeback with two interceptions deep in their own territory in the last two minutes to win by seven.[4][5][6] It was the second of three consecutive losses in the Rose Bowl for Michigan, a two-touchdown favorite entering this game.[1]

The face value of game tickets was $17.50 each.[1]


Michigan Wolverines

Led by junior quarterback Rick Leach, Michigan began the season ranked second, and were first after four of the first six weeks. However, a stunning 16–0 loss on October 22 at Minnesota dropped them to sixth. A 14–6 win over fourth-ranked rival Ohio State gave the Wolverines the Big Ten title and they came into the Rose Bowl ranked fourth.[7]

Washington Huskies

In their third season under head coach Don James and quarterback Warren Moon, Washington stumbled out of the gate, losing three of their first four games, all out of conference. They then won six of seven, losing 20–12 at UCLA on October 29 (later vacated by the Bruins, due to ineligible players). The Huskies won the Pac-8 title and earned the Rose Bowl berth when UCLA lost its final game on a last second field goal to USC, 29–27. Washington entered the game ranked thirteenth in the AP poll, and tied for fourteenth in the UPI coaches poll.[7]


A game ball from the 1978 Rose Bowl

First quarter

Second quarter

Third quarter

Fourth quarter


Statistics Washington   Michigan  
First downs 17 22
Rushes–yards 48–164 48–149
Passing yards 234 239
Passes 13–24–2 14–27–2
Total yards 398 388
Punts–average 5–39 4–43
Fumbles–lost 0–0 2–1
Turnovers by 2 3
Penalties–yards 6–47 3–11


With Notre Dame beating top-ranked and undefeated Texas in the Cotton Bowl, Michigan had hopes that a dominant win over Washington would boost the Wolverines to the national title. The Huskies' dramatic upset ended those hopes, and Notre Dame was voted first in the polls among five one-loss teams; Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, and Penn State were the others. Michigan dropped to ninth in the final AP poll and Washington climbed to tenth; both were a spot higher in the UPI coaches poll.[8]


  1. ^ a b c "Rose Bowl pressures mount for Wolverines". Youngstown Vindicator. (Ohio). Associated Press. January 2, 1978. p. 19.
  2. ^ Missildine, Harry (January 2, 1978). "In this corner, Huskies favored". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. 15.
  3. ^ Jares, Joe (January 9, 1978). "A perfect Moon shot for the Huskies". Sports Illustrated. p. 11.
  4. ^ a b Missildine, Harry (January 3, 1978). "Jackson rescues Washington". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. 19.
  5. ^ a b "Huskies go from rags to roses". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 3, 1978. p. 1C.
  6. ^ Dodds, Tracy (January 3, 1978). "Bo's rare gamble backfires in Rose Bowl". Milwaukee Journal. p. 8, part 2.
  7. ^ a b "College football polls". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). wire services. November 29, 1977. p. 2C.
  8. ^ "It might not add up, but Irish are clearly No. 1". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). wire services. January 4, 1978. p. 5B.